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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 46 - November 2009

The past month has seen the launch of a major new play on the life of Sir Isaac Newton entitled ‘Let Newton Be!’ written by Craig Baxter and produced by the Menagerie Theatre Company as a contribution to the 800th Birthday Celebrations of the University of Cambridge. Sponsored by the Faraday Institute, the play received its premier at Trinity College, Newton’s old College. Newton himself was the second holder of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics, and we were pleased to welcome the retiring 17th holder of the Lucasian Chair, Prof. Stephen Hawking, who gave a short speech before the performance. Later the same week there were further performances in other venues for the whole university, and a sell-out ticketed performance for the general public at the Hills Road Sixth Form College theatre. Plans are now being made for UK and US tours for the play during 2010.

A good crowd (130+) also attended the Panel Discussion, chaired by Simon Conway Morris FRS, organized as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas in which John Polkinghorne FRS and Nicholas Beale engaged the audience on the subject of their new book ‘Questions of Truth’.

This coming month sees our main termly public CiS-Faraday Lecture when Prof. Rosalind Picard (founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Laboratory, USA) speaks on ‘Playing God? Towards Machines that Deny Their Maker’. The lecture will take place at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday 12th November in the Queen’s Lecture Theatre, Emmanuel College. Prof. Picard works in the area of affective computing and her research group publishes on multidimensional signal modelling, computer vision, pattern recognition, machine learning, and human-computer interaction.

November also sees two further Faraday Research Seminars: Prof. Paul Ewart at 1.00 pm on 3rd Nov on the topic ‘The Necessity of Chance: Randomness, Purpose and the Sovereignty of God’ and Prof. Alister McGrath at 1.00 pm on 17th Nov. on the topic ‘Calvin's Contributions to the Emergence of Modern Science’.

The 2010 Faraday Course Programme is in process of finalisation. The first courses made available for applications on our website are ‘Science, Religion and the Environment’ for the Cambridge Federation of Theological Colleges, but also offering a few places to ordinands from other Colleges round the country who would like to come; and ‘Science and Religion in Schools’ for school teachers (especially science and RE). Each course will give appropriate resources for those ‘at the coal face’, as well as cutting-edge education from top-class speakers on where the various debates are in academia.
The ‘Test of Faith’ materials continue to spread around the world. The 'Test of Faith' DVD and accompanying book and course are now available in Australia, through Koorong book distributors: http://www.koorong.com/. Also, the Test of Faith schools' pack is now available from the Faraday online Shop: www.faraday-institute,org (click on Shop folder).  For more details about the Test of Faith project and to sign up for email news on the project and materials, go to http://www.testoffaith.com/.

This past month saw the launch of a new Faraday Institute research project headed up by Dr Berry Billingsley (Faculty of Education, Reading University) in collaboration with Dr Keith Taber (Faculty of Education, Cambridge University) to investigate the cognitive development of UK school pupils with respect to their educational experience, particularly as that relates to their responses to the interaction between science and religion. Those wishing to hear more about this project can contact Dr Billingsley (berry@sciwhy.com).

Faraday Staff have been busy this month giving lectures in various parts of the UK and beyond. The Director preached in the University Church of St. Andrew’s University on the topic ‘Did Darwin Kill God?’ (the sermon is posted at: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/about/UniversityChapels/Preachers/2009-2010/DenisAlexander/); and at St Mary’s Church in Ely, to the Davenant Foundation Sixth Form and for the Diocese of Rochester on the topic ‘Creation or Evolution – Do We Have to Choose?’. In addition he has given two lectures to the students of the International Theological Institute in the Dominican Convent in Vienna, and spoken at a Workshop in Heidelberg on the topic of ‘The Spirit of God in Evolutionary History’.

Associate Director Bob White spoke at Rock Baptist Church in Cambridge on ‘A Burning Question? Christian Response to Climate Change’ and was a guest on Premier Radio’s Sunday morning programme on current affairs (Premier can now be received nationwide on DAB).

The Course Director Dr Rodney Holder recently gave the after dinner speech at the Science and Religion Forum Conference in Cambridge. He has also spoken on 'Is the Universe Designed? God and the Big Bang' to the Bible and Science Group in Worcester; ‘Is there more than one Universe?’ to the Wesley Church Forum in Cambridge on ‘Science meets Faith’; ‘God and the Big Bang’ at the Sixth Form Masterclass Week, Waddesdon Church of England School, Bucks; and ‘Are Science and Religion ever in Harmony about the Big Questions?’ at a Day Conference organised by the University of Plymouth and its Chaplaincy on ‘Faith: Why Bother with Thinking?’.


Denis Alexander Bob White
[Director]   [Associate Director]